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Why so serious?

Lego Batman looks to the West
By MADDY MYERS  |  October 16, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for Lego Batman: The Videogame

Lego Batman: The Videogame | For The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS | Rated T for Teen | Developed by Traveller’s Tales | Published by Warner Bros. Interactive
Lego Batman is not The Dark Knight: Now, with Legos! Instead, it takes the franchise back to its roots — all the way back to Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin in the mid-’60s film and TV show. Here, Batman’s straight man is surrounded by insanity and hilarity, from Robin’s adorable goofball antics to the clumsy bumbling of various villains. Perhaps laughing at this game requires a devotion to old Batman comics, or a deep love for the Adam West–ian humor. I wouldn’t say the Riddler’s terrible puns are a laugh riot, but Clayface’s slapstick stupidity, Poison Ivy’s toxic kisses, and Bane’s signature move — the backbreaker — are all good for a smile. 

Like the rest of the Lego franchise, Lego Batman is a basic platform-and-puzzle game, but it has playable characters with guns (e.g., Two-Face, the Penguin), and therefore some shooter aspects. You run around Gotham, aided by your own construction of Lego bridges and zip lines. You collect pips, or Lego money, which you use to buy suit upgrades and more characters. Some have complained that the game’s puzzles are too difficult; I’m not sure whether I was playing a different game from theirs or whether I’m just extra smart. I like to think it’s the latter.

My one real problem with Lego Batman is the story line — or lack thereof. All the Traveller’s Tales developers had to do for Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones was create endearing versions of the films in Lego form. Lego games never include dialogue; the characters use facial expressions and grunting to convey emotion or intent. In the case of Lego Star Wars, it didn’t matter that Lego Luke and Leia weren’t saying their iconic lines, because everybody already knew them. Lego Batman poses a new challenge: the Batman franchise takes in varied, sometimes contradictory story lines from countless comics and multiple films. In order to allow Batman to tangle with every major villain, the game has an original and simplistic story line in which the bad guys work out of Arkham Asylum on several mostly silly attempts to terrorize the citizens of Gotham.

Lego Batman purports to include every single character in the Batman universe, and I’m hard pressed to find one the developers didn’t work in. Not only that, every character is playable, and all of the popular characters — both good and bad — have levels devoted to them. For example, right after you play as Batman tracking down Catwoman, you can play a variation on the same level as the light-fingered feline. If you’re playing with a co-op partner, that person goes from Robin to Riddler. It doesn’t hurt to have a great co-op partner, by the way — this game is well suited to a pair. Lego Batman might even interest non-gamers, since almost everybody has heard of both Legos and Batman, and the cutesy humor would appeal to many.

To have tried to re-create the most recent Batman film installment in Lego form would have done both game and film a disservice. Lego Batman is a tribute to Batman fans who still want some fun with their superheroes. You could write it off as “just for kids” and wait for the hardcore titles to hit in early November. Or you could loosen up and have some good clean fun.

  Topics: Videogames , Adam West , Batman , Culture and Lifestyle ,  More more >
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